Traditional Knowledge Digital Library Unit (TKDL)

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a pioneering initiative of India, under the joint collaboration of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), to prevent exploitation and to protect Indian traditional knowledge at Patent Offices worldwide. Traditional Knowledge (TK) is a valuable yet vulnerable asset to indigenous and local communities who depend on TK for their livelihood. To elucidate, the healthcare needs of more than 70% population and livelihood of millions of people in India is dependent on traditional medicine. Globally too there has been renewed attention and interest in the use of traditional medicine increasing its vulnerability to exploitation. The grant of a US patent to wound healing properties of turmeric flagged the danger of complacence in proactively guarding the traditional knowledge. The time, effort and money spent on revocation of turmeric patent at USPTO highlighted the need for putting in place a proactive mechanism for TK protection. The problem related to Indian TK is further compounded by the fact that India’s traditional medicinal knowledge exists in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil, and several others and often in ancient local dialects that are no longer in practice. Thus, the Indian TK even when documented is neither accessible nor understood by patent examiners at patent offices worldwide.

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library was conceptualized to overcome the language and format barrier by systematically and scientifically converting and structuring the available contents of the ancient texts – currently focussed on Indian Systems of Medicines i.e. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Sowa Rigpa as well as Yoga practices - into five international languages, namely, English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish, with the help of information technology tools and an innovative classification system - Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC). As on date, more than 4.24 lakh formulations/ practices have been transcribed into the TKDL database.

TKRC has structured and classified the Indian TK into several thousand subgroups for Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga related terminology while correlating the same with modern terminology. The recognition of this unique classification -TKRC - enabled incorporation of about 200 sub-groups under A61K 36/00 in International Patent Classification instead of few sub-groups earlier available on medicinal plants under A61K 35/00, thus enhancing the quality of search and examination of prior art with respect to patent applications field in the area of traditional knowledge.

TKDL has also set international specifications and standards for setting up of TK databases based on TKDL specifications. This was adopted in 2003 by the Committee in fifth session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Expression of folklore.

TKDL technology integrates diverse disciplines such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Yoga, and languages such as Sanskrit, Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Tamil, English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, and traditional knowledge with modern science & modern medicine. Currently, TKDL contains information from books of Indian Systems of Medicine, which are available in open domain and can be sourced by any individual/organization at national/ international level. TKDL is an innovative tool that acts as a bridge between these books (prior art) and patent examiners.

At present, as per the approval of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, access of TKDL is available to fifteen Patent Offices (European Patent Office, United State Patent & Trademark Office, Japan Patent Office, United Kingdom Patent Office, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, German Patent Office, Intellectual Property Australia, Indian Patent Office, Chile Patent Office, Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia, Rospatent- Intellectual Property Office of Russia, Peru Patent Office, Spanish Patent and Trademark Office) and Danish Patent and Trademark Office, National Industrial Property Institute, France), under TKDL Access (Non-disclosure) Agreement. As per the terms and conditions of the Access agreement, examiners of patent office can utilize TKDL for search and examination purposes only and cannot reveal the contents of TKDL to any third party unless it is necessary for the purpose of citation. TKDL Access Agreement is unique in nature and has in-built safeguards on non-disclosure to protect India’s interest against any possible misuse.

In addition, pre-grant oppositions and third party observations are filed at various Patent Offices globally, along with prior-art evidences from TKDL. Significant impact has already been realized. So far, 271 patent applications have either been set aside/ withdrawn/ amended, based on the prior art evidences present in the TKDL database with minimal costs and without expending undue time and effort. This is noteworthy considering APEDA had to spend about seven crores towards only legal fee for getting few claims of Basmati rice patent revoked.

TKDL is the first of its kind prior-art database of traditional knowledge globally, and has proven to be an effective deterrent against bio-piracy. While being recognized internationally as a unique effort, TKDL has set a benchmark in TK protection around the world, by demonstrating the advantages of proactive action and the power of strong deterrence. Focus is on deterrence and in preventing the erroneous grant of patents by ensuring access to TK related prior art for patent examiners without restricting the use of traditional knowledge.

For further query on TKDL and Access Agreement (for Patent Offices), contact:
Head, CSIR-Traditional Knowledge Digital Library Unit (email:

TKDL Journey
1.October, 1999; December 1999
Approach paper on setting up of TKDL; Submission of approach paper to Standing Committee on Information Technology (SCIT), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
2.January, 2000
Setting up of the interdisciplinary (inter-ministerial Task Force on TKDL
3.May, 2000
Submission of TKDL Task Force Report to Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy; and presenting TKDL Concept & Vision at International forum .
4.January 2001
Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA's) approval for the TKDL Project
5.June, 2001
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Department of ISM&H now AYUSH) and National Institute of Science Communication (now CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources)
6.July, 2001
Development of TKDL software, specifications and design
7.October, 2001 to March, 2002
Establishing TKDL team of Project Assistants (IT), Ayurveda, Patent Examiners, etc.
8.February, 2001
Presentation on Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC) at International Patent Classification (IPC) Union for getting established WIPO-TK Task Force consisting of USPTO, EPO, JPO, China and India
9.February, 2002
WIPO-TK Task Force recommended addition of a new subclass under A 61; Committee of Experts recommended: (i) inclusion of approx. 200 subgroups on TK against earlier few sub-groups on medicinal plants, (ii) linking of TKRC to IPC and (iii) continuation of work on biodiversity, TK and TCE
10.November - December, 2002; July, 2003
Internationally recognized specifications and standards for setting up of TK databases and registries based on TKDL specifications, their drafting presentation and adoption of recommendations at the 5th Session of IGC
11.August, 2002
Constitution of Access Policy Issue Committee (APIC)
12. #March, 2003
First batch of data abstraction work on 36,000 Ayurveda formulations for creating TKDL in five languages, i.e. English, German, Spanish, French and Japanese
13.October, 2003
Release of demo TKDL CD containing a sample of 500 formulations
14.June 2004
Initiation of the TKDL Unani project
15.August 2004
Initiation of TKDL Ayurveda Phase II
16.October, 2004
Concordance between IPC and TKRC and approval on linking of TKRC with IPC
17.August, 2005
Initiation of project on TKDL Siddha
Creating of TKRC containing approx. 25,000 subgroups
18.January, 2006
Inclusion of 207 subgroups, related to algae, fungi, lichens or plants or derivatives thereof used in traditional herbal medicines in International Patent Classification, 8th Edition
19.June 2006
Approval on Access to TKDL database to international patent offices by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
20.January 2008
Initiation of activities on creation of TKDL Yoga
21.February 2009
TKDL Access Agreement with European Patent Office (EPO)
22.July 2009
TKDL Access Agreement with USPTO
23.July 2009
The first prior art evidence based on TKDL citations under Third Party observations against 35 patent applications submitted to EPO leading to development of a formalised structure for filing Third Party Objections (TPOs)/oppositions at various international patent offices
24.October, 2009
TKDL Access Agreement with German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA)
25.February, 2010
TKDL Access Agreement with United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office
TKDL Access Agreement with Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
26.January, 2011
TKDL Access Agreement with Intellectual Property Australia (IP Australia)
27. #March 22-24, 2011
International Conference on 'Utilization of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) as a Model for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge
28.April, 2011
TKDL Access Agreement with Japan Patent Office (JPO).
29.July, 2012
First Amending Agreement to TKDL Access Agreement with European Patent Office (EPO)
30.August, 2012
First Amending Agreement to TKDL Access Agreement with Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
31.January, 2014
First Amending Agreement to TKDL Access Agreement with United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
32.May, 2014
TKDL Access Agreement with Chile Patent Office (INAPI)
33.June, 2014
First Amending Agreement to TKDL Access Agreement with Japan Patent Office (JPO)
34.October 2015
TKDL Access Agreement with Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO)
35.June, 2017 
TKDL Access Agreement with Rospatent (Russia).
36.June, 2017 
TKDL Access Agreement with INDECOPI (Peru).
37.October 2017 
First Amending Agreement to TKDL Access Agreement with Chile Patent Office (INAPI).
38.September 2018 
Initiation of Project on Ayurveda from Kerala manuscripts.
39.October 2018 
Initiation of Project on Sowa Rigpa
40.April 2019 
TKDL Access Agreement with Spanish Patent and Trademark Office.
41.October 2019
Second Amending Agreement to TKDL Access Agreement with IP Australia
42.October 2021 
TKDL Access Agreement with Danish Patent and Trademark Office
43.August 2022
Cabinet approves widening access of the Traditional Knowledge digital library database to users, besides patent offices
44.September 2022 
TKDL Access Agreement with National Industrial Property Institute, France.

Contact Information

Head, TKDL Unit Dr. V. J. Sattigeri

Contact Address


CSIR - Traditional Knowledge Digital Library Unit
Vigyan Suchna Bhawan
14, Satsang Vihar Marg, 
New Delhi – 110067, India
Tel. No.: +91-11-47011293,

TKDL Outcomes against Bio-Piracy

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) has been recognized nationally and internationally as a successful defensive, prior art tool in preventing misappropriation of Indian traditional knowledge (TK). The TKDL database is currently being used by 15 patent offices across the world, including India for examining patent applications before considering grant. To supplement the efforts of patent examiners, third-party observation (TPO)/ pre-grant opposition (PGO) are also submitted at a number of national/ regional patent offices using available legal provisions. Such provisions allow third parties to raise questions regarding patentability (including novelty or inventive step) of patent applications prior to their grant. CSIR-TKDL Unit submits TKDL evidences as in the aforementioned defence instruments contesting the patentability of applications based on Indian TK at national/regional patent offices, thereby avoiding expensive litigation.

Beginning July 2009, the TKDL team has identified several patent applications at international patent offices like United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), European Patent Office (EPO), Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), United Kingdom Patent & Trademark Office (UKPTO), IP Australia and Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM, India), with respect to Indian Systems of Medicine. In these cases, prior-art evidences from TKDL have been filed at pre-grant stage under relevant provisions at these patent Offices. The outcomes of these efforts, as mentioned below, include patent applications being withdrawn/cancelled/declared dead/terminated or have had claims amended by applicants or rejected by the Examiner(s) on the basis of TKDL submissions.

S. NoPatent OfficeNo. of Cases
1.European Patent Office (EPO)135
2.United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)28
3.Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM)61
4.Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)36
5.IP Australia (AIPO)10
6.United Kingdom Patent & Trademark Office (UKPTO)1